Former lady captain at golf club and a familiar face at Oxfam shop

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Bridie Turley, born in Lylo, October 24, 1924, died on June 25, 2018, at Sandringham nursing Home, Portadown.

In her youth, Bridie Turley (formerly Doherty) had the poise, charisma and beauty of a golden-age Hollywood film star.

Even at her recent wake, my husband remarked that she was the best-looking of the just-departed that he’d ever seen.

But there was a lot more than outer beauty to Bridie, long-time resident of Portadown’s Mahon Road, and mother of the former Portadown Times golf correspondent, the late Jim Turley.

Her keen intelligence was recognised early by her teacher at Lylo school, and later in her life by her boss at Craigavon Hospital, a Mrs McCosh, who promoted her to a key auxiliary and administrative role at the neo natal unit.

The job held a certain poignancy for Bridie, who had lost her second son only days after his birth, in the mid 1950s.

She and her husband Mick, a popular local businessman, were unable to have any more children, due to their conflicting blood types.

However, through her willing participation in the very early days of research in the field, undertaken in London, Bridie was able to help doctors find a solution to the problem for couples in similar, heart-breaking circumstances.

Her contribution to the research was never forgotten.

More than half a century later, she received a thank-you message from a Portadown carer, who shared Bridie’s rare Rhesus Negative blood type, but was able to become a mother without any complications.

And although Bridie would sometimes look back to her childhood in Lylo and give off about always having to mind her four younger siblings and various neighbours’ children, she had a very maternal streak.

She became a second mother to this writer (her niece by her younger sister Sheila), after I was born in 1964, and she was a generous and caring auntie to the seven children of her late brother, Frank, after his death at 50, from a heart attack.

Later, she became a devoted grandmother to Scott and Aislinn, from her son Jim’s marriage to the prominent artist, Sandy Turley.

She took us all under her generous wing, which extended to her protective youngest sister, Sheila and brother Billy; her older and equally witty sister, the late Kathleen; her sister, Una, who died in London; younger brother Ned, who died at 30 from heart failure, and her parents Margaret and William Doherty, all of Lylo.

Beyond family, Bridie had a loyal circle of friends, mostly fellow members of Portadown Golf Club, where she was made Ladies Captain, and earlier, through the greyhound racing fraternity.

Her husband Mick bred and trained many winners, and Bridie loved those greyhounds as much as she did her long line of pet dogs and the odd stray cat.

In her final months, she enjoyed having her mini Jack Russell sit on her knee, and she would have been touched to know that he lay by her side while we waited for the undertaker, after her death at Sandringham Care Home.

Bridie outlived Mick by 23 years, having cared for him tenderly after his series of strokes.

Following his death in 1995, she was asked to volunteer at the Oxfam store on Portadown’s Main Street, where she became a popular member of the staff, manning the till and keeping the books.

But tragedy was to strike Bridie’s life once more, when Jim – a former teacher and champion golfer – died at 54 from a short illness, in 2004.

He was the apple of her eye, and she never quite got over the shock of his loss.

The birth of her great-granddaughter, Caoimhe, in 2012, and the arrival of her rescue-dog, Murphy, brought some sunshine to her final years.

It is a comfort to those of us who loved her that she died peacefully, knowing she was loved.

Love always to you, Auntie Bridie.

You will be sorely missed.

A month’s mind Mass for Bridie Turley will be held in St John’s Church, Lylo on Sunday, July 29 at 10am.